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Sunday, September 8

Sunday Writing Tip: Add More Emotion to Your Scenes

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Each week, I’ll offer a tip you can take and apply to your WIP to help improve it. They’ll be easy to do and shouldn’t take long, so they’ll be tips you can do without taking up your Sunday. Though I do reserve the right to offer a good tip now and then that will take longer—but only because it would apply to the entire manuscript.

This week, go through each scene and find three places where you can add or deepen the emotion.


Unless you’re writing a heavily plot-driven genre (such as a thriller or procedural), getting emotion into the story is vital. The more your readers connect emotionally with your characters, the more likely they are to love the book. “Not caring” is a big reason readers put a book down.

Check each scene or chapter and find three places (or more if you’re having fun with this) where you can add more emotion. Even if it’s just a two-word sentence, such as “she bristled” “he frowned” “they laughed” (though try to go deeper than that—but this is a good start at least).

Look for places where you know your characters are feeling something, but maybe it’s not quite making it to the page yet. For example:
  • Is that frown really conveying the depth of the emotion?
  • Is a character reacting enough to something hurtful?
  • Is the fear/love/worry/joy coming through the way you see it?
  • Is the emotional response clear to readers? (Sometimes we know why a character is acting or feeling a certain way,but readers don’t have enough to fully understand)
Little tweaks can add a lot, so don’t feel you need to get melodramatic or anything. But also don’t be afraid to dig in and show that emotion if you think the scene will benefit from it.

For more on adding emotion to your scenes, try these articles:

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